This content is rated TV-MA, and is for viewers 18 years or older. Are you of age?
Sorry, you are not old enough to view this content.
First Look: Roku Player
About Video Comments (0 ) Transcript

First Look: Roku Player

2:58 /

If you don't need compatibility with iTunes, Roku's trio of ultra-affordable video boxes offers a wider range of streaming video and audio providers than you'll find on Apple TV.

I'm David Carnoy, executive editor for CNET.com and I'm going to give you a quick video tour of the Roku Player, an inexpensive media streamer that was once simply known as the Netflix player. In its latest incarnation, Roku has made its little black box even smaller while retaining the same on-screen look and feel, and channel options that are currently headlined by Netflix, Amazon Video-On-Demand, Pandora, and MLB.TV. The new box also comes in good, better, and best versions--the $59.99 Roku HD, the $79.99 Roku XD, and the $99.99 Roku XDS. From the front, all the models look the same and each one offers wired and wireless network connectivity, plus HDMI and composite AV video outputs for HDTVs and standard TVs respectively. Internally, the big difference involves the flavor of Wi-Fi you get. The base model has 802.11g while the Roku XD has faster 802.11n. Step up to the XDS and you get dual-band 802.11n. Additionally, the two higher-end models come with the enhanced remote you see here that offers three additional buttons--instant replay, back, and info. And, finally, the Roku XDS also includes a USB port which, once activated, will be used for viewing USB-based media. It also offers an optical output and support for component video via an optional breakout cable. For what it's worth, the XD and XDS support 1080p video while the entry-level Roku HD does 720p video, but we should point out that there's almost nothing in the way of true 1080p streaming video so you'll have a hard time telling the difference between the resolutions. All in all, the Roku player's biggest strengths are its ease of use, affordability, and diversity of its channel lineup, though it is missing content from YouTube and Hulu. The quality of the video varies from channel to channel but both Netflix and Amazon Video looks very good as does the video from MLB.TV. Sound quality was also quite good. The Roku player faces stiff competition from network Blu-ray players and game consoles that also offer Netflix streaming capabilities. That said, a lot of people will be comparing this product to Apple's newly redesigned $99 Apple TV which currently integrates Netflix and YouTube but not Pandora. In short, if you need a product that's part of the i-universe namely one that offers compatibility with iTunes and the likely interaction with iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad devices via the new AirPlay feature, Apple TV will be a better choice. If, however, you want something that offers content beyond just iTunes, Netflix, and YouTube, Roku is the way to go. I'm David Carnoy and that's the latest Roku Player, thanks for watching.

New releases

The Bowers and Wilkins CM1 speakers...
1:50 August 27, 2014
The Bowers and Wilkins CM1 S2 speakers look great and sound terrific but aren't the best choice for punk...
Play video
Plantronics BackBeat Pro: A full-size...
2:33 August 27, 2014
The $250/£250 BackBeat Pro is Plantronic's version of the Beats Studio Wireless, with noise canceling inc...
Play video
Apps to prep for college
0:59 August 27, 2014
Avoid the pitfalls of the first year of college with the help of apps. CNET's Kara Tsuboi reports on her recommendations...
Play video
Waterproof gadgets for a summer...
2:41 August 26, 2014
Not all gadgets are made equal when it comes to water and dust resistance. Here's what to look out for, plus...
Play video
Tomorrow Daily 042: Robot uses...
21:27 August 26, 2014
On today's show, Ashley and Khail discuss a man giving his own blood as a medium for a robot-printed selfie,...
Play video
Samsung working on its own round...
4:38 August 26, 2014
Burger King offers smartphones your way, Android L could be Lemon Meringue Pie, and more round smartwatches...
Play video
Keep your memories in the clou...
3:39 August 26, 2014
There are dozens of digital photo storage sites available, but which one is best for you? We show you how...
Play video
Cree's LED floodlight falls a bit...
2:41 August 26, 2014
The LED upstart's BR30 bulb gets overshadowed by its competitors.
Play video
 

Video discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre